BFA admissions to reopen

Recommendations proposed for dealing with future suspensions

Gordon Smith, associate dean of Arts and Science said it was heartening to receive comments from students after the suspension.
Gordon Smith, associate dean of Arts and Science said it was heartening to receive comments from students after the suspension.
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Queen’s will reopen admission to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program for the Fall of 2013, Associate Dean of Arts and Science Gordon Smith said.

Students were informed of the decision to reopen admissions on June 12 in an email from Smith.

“It was always a strong possibility that we would reopen admission in 2013 the way we have just done,” he told the Journal. “I think it’s important for people to understand the incredible amount of work that’s gone into this the past eight months, on the part of students, all the BFA faculty. We met with all kinds of faculty stakeholders.”

Smith said the final decision was formally announced to staff in a meeting on June 12, several hours before the email was sent. 

The suspension to Fine Arts was announced in November.

“A review of the resources available to the BFA Programme in the immediately foreseeable future indicates that they are not sufficient to sustain the current programme,” Smith wrote in a November email to students.

Following that announcement, many students expressed concern over the future of the program. They held protests against the decision outside Robert Sutherland Hall and Summerhill, where they petitioned and held up paintings in an attempt to convince Queen’s administration to restore the program.

“We were really heartened and helped by a lot of the feedback on this decision, the interest in the program and a lot of really constructive comments in and around what it’s done to the BFA,” Smith said.

Following the announcement, AMS Assembly voted in favour of a motion to create a committee to investigate the university’s decision, and to work to restore enrolment to the program. 

The committee consisted of faculty members and one student from each year, with Smith as the chair. 

The committee has discussed possible changes to the program, including allowing Fine Art students more opportunity to take electives.

He said merging the program with other creative arts departments is something that has been brought up, but no official plans have been made. 

“That’s certainly something that the creative arts departments — that would be music, drama, media, fine art — have talked about from an administration perspective,” he said.

He said the committee wouldn’t have agreed to reopen admissions if they weren’t optimistic about the future of visual arts at Queen’s. 

“The climate we’re in, nothing is safe,” he said. “All programs have to sort of rise to the challenges and that’s what we’re doing.”

David Woodward, BFA ’13, sat in on a few of the weekly meetings the committee has held since November.

He said members discussed a possible restructuring of the program, with a potential merge with the Film department. 

“There were ideas of merging it with some components in the Film program and making it more of an open media BFA program and embracing more modern based work,” he said.

He thinks this would tarnish the program’s reputation as it specializes in traditional art forms.

“The Fine Arts program at Queen’s is primarily known for printmaking and painting and any kind of restructure like that could possibly be detrimental to its reputation,” he said.

Last month, a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Academic Development (SCAD) released a draft proposal of recommended procedures for the suspension of admissions to academic programs.

AMS Academic Affairs Commissioner Isabelle Duchaine, who acts as the AMS representative on SCAD, said she thinks the document was the result of a previous lack of clearly-outlined procedures for the suspension of admissions.

“The complication that arose last year was that there was no clear indication of what that process was,” Duchaine, ArtSci ’13 said.

The draft, which is available online through the University Secretariat, includes seven recommendations, including consulting affected individuals and groups, ensuring that alternative options to suspensions are explored and ensuring students currently enrolled in the program at the time of suspension are able to meet graduation requirements.

The committee announced last month that they’re seeking further input from the university community before sending the recommendations to a final vote in Senate in November.

Duchaine said it’s especially important for students to have their say on the recommendations.

“As the governing body of the University, students should have a powerful opportunity to make sure our voices are heard,” she said. “As in all aspects of university life, we must be consistently engaged, striving to remain active versus passive members of this community.”

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